Lindsey Treffry | blot
It’s on bumpers, buttons and stickers. It hangs from
buildings and businesses, and is displayed in the University of Idaho
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender office. The rainbow flag is even
tattooed on Julia Keleher’s arm.
Keleher, the UI LGBT Office and Programs Coordinator, got the tattoo at 19.
“Our LGBT community back in the ‘70s … had the
idea of pride,” she said. “It’s all about pride. It’s being proud of who
In 1978, the San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Pride
Parade commissioned artist Gilbert Baker to design a new symbol for its
marches. Baker taught himself to sew and began crafting the banner.
“The rainbow is a part of nature and you have to
be in the right place to see it,” Baker told a CBS Chicago reporter in
June 2012. “It’s beautiful, all of the colors, even the colors you can’t
see that really fit us as a people because we are all of the colors ...
all the genders, races and ages.”
Paige Davies, the AmeriCorps women’s mentoring,
service learning and volunteer coordinator, said Baker probably chose
rainbow colors because they are obnoxious.
“It’s in your face. There’s no hiding it,” she said.
Davies’ interpretation has changed throughout the years.
“To me, now it’s annoying,” Davies said. “Everything has to be rainbow-colored.”
But Davies said the loud colors led her to
Inland Oasis, a volunteer organization that serves LGBT communities.
“The logo had rainbow flag colors. Now it says
‘open, accepting, affirming,’ but it used to only have the rainbow,”
Davies said. “I knew, then, that that was a place I could go. It was
She said it was just as reassuring to see
rainbow flag stickers in UI professors’ offices — part of the UI Safe
“They didn’t have to tell me that it was OK to be gay,” she said. “I just knew.”
Katie Noble, UI Women’s Center administrative
assistant, said the flag represents a unity of all differences in the
“Before coming out, you’re hiding who you are.
But with the flag, you’re not gonna hide from that anymore,” Noble said.
“The flag is so vibrant and solid.”
And each vibrant color has a meaning.
Red means life. Orange, healing. Yellow, sunlight. Green, nature. Blue, harmony. And purple for spirit.
The flag once had pink for sex, and turquoise
for art or magic, but the colors were later dropped to simplify
“The flag is our connection to our history,”
Keleher said. “There are symbols (like the flag) and it’s important in
understanding where (they) come from.”
Noble said interpretations aren’t always positive.
“For those who are not supportive (of the LGBT
community), they’re like ‘Oh, there’s another rainbow flag,’” she said.
“There are two sides of it.”
Davies said she might understand why the rainbow was chosen.
“It’s happy, rich and full of life-colors,” she said. “It’s the hope after the storm.”
As seen in February issue of Blot Magazine.